Welcomed by Sandrine Garbay, the woman cellar master at First Growth Superieur Sauternes for the past 10 years. Tasted the 2007 en primeur (started selling en primeur with the arrival of Pierre Lurton also in charge at top growth St Emilion property Cheval Blanc). The most amazing thing about Yquem is the severe selection that is carried out each year. This year only 55% of the production went into the final blend. The rest is declassified as generic Sauternes. This is a large property has 100 hectare with four main soil types so there is a lot of choice of lots.
In 2007 there were six different ‘tries’ of pickings. Small parcels of vineyards are scored for the perfectly ‘ripe’ grapes. Similar style of grapes (regarding soil type and grape variety are grouped together) to make up a particular lot. All selection is done in the vineyard so training the pickers is key to the ultimate quality of the wine. The pickings took place over two months (usual) with individual berries being picked at perfect stage of noble rot – only when the the Botrytis cinerea (a tiny fungus) has punctured the skins of the raisins enabling the water to evaporate leaving the sugar in the grape behind (stage 5 ‘raisin en debut de fletrissement’ et stage 6 ‘raisin pourri roti’).
The assemblage (blending) is done in May which in 2007 made up of a record 37 different lots. Blending is rather like taking 37 different colours and choosing only those lots (or parts of these lots) that add something to the final painting of the 2007 Chateau dYquem. The yield this year was a plentiful 18hl/ha – 10 is the average which amounts to not much more than a glass a vine!
2007 Chateau d’Yquem
Very intense spicy and floral aromas on the nose. Rich exotic fruits of mango and pineapple on the palate. Powerful and dense with wonderful lifting acidity. Caramel butterscotch flavours on the very long finish.